Monday, August 06, 2007

Lil' Bit of Film Review, Lil' Bit of Bitchin'

Yesterday the totally awesome boyfriend and I attended the final day of the Traverse City Film Festival, which is exactly like the Sundance Film Festival except that nobody's ever heard of it. Which is unfortunate because the Traverse City Film Festival is really a pretty cool thing. It's the brainchild of local left-wing pinko Michael Moore, who believes that "we need movies that seek to enrich the human spirit and the art of filmmaking -- not the bottom line."

So yesterday afternoon Chris and I saw two documentaries -- Chicago 10 and In the Shadow of the Moon -- that did just that. And although I didn't plan it that way when I bought the tickets, both films were set in the same time period and seeing the two together presented a really neat dichotomy of the late 1960s. While
Chicago 10 illustrated how fucked up and torn apart our country was, In the Shadow of the Moon painted a picture of oneness and. . .well. . .grace experienced not just by Americans but by all of humankind.

I've always preferred books to movies, but since Chris started sharing all his obscure documentaries with me I've realized that this is one of the coolest things about seeing quality films. Just like a good book, a good film makes you think, which I guess is the whole point of the Traverse City Film Festival and why the schedule includes panel discussions in addition to film screenings. Not that you need to attend a discussion in order to discuss; as they exited a theater, I heard some guy say eagerly to his companion, "Let's go sit somewhere so we can discuss, in depth, what we just saw." (PS - that guy was Chris).

We actually did attend a sort-of discussion -- an event called "Mike's Surprise," the surprise being that you end up seeing whatever Michael Moore feels like showing you, which in our case turned out to be outtakes from his new film Sicko. The cool part about this was that we got to see Michael Moore live in person (!) and to hear him speak, and that when he spoke he said lots of intelligent and funny things. We also (obviously) got to see quite a bit of interesting
Sicko-related footage that none of you losers get to see until the DVD comes out, including a lengthy conversation with the very wise, very British, and very articulate Tony Benn. Plus Mr. Moore took questions and answered them thoughtfully, and when -- for some odd reason -- he insisted that one little white-haired woman sing her question while sashaying down the aisle, she did.

Okay, so there was more than one cool part of "Mike's Surprise." The not-so-cool part, however, was Moore's response to a young woman who stood up and asked -- with a sort of helpless, hopeful urgency -- what we can do. The muckraking hell-raiser's call to activism?

Write your congressperson.

That's right. Write your congressperson and encourage him or her to co-sponsor HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act.

Gee, Mike, that'd be a really swell idea if the vast majority of our politicians wasn't languishing contentedly in the pockets of their corporate donors and actually, I don't know, gave two shits about what the average American wants. I mean, sure, I'll try it, but come ON. You can't go around making movies about how fucked up things are in our country and then pretend that things aren't SO fucked up that a quick little note to your elected representative won't make everything all better.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but "write your congressperson" seems like a pretty tough sell to a girl whose letters to congresspeople typically generate little more than a polite restatement of the congressperson's position on the issue. Surely there must be a way to convince our elected representatives to, you know, represent us.

If not, at least we can create disparaging likenesses of them to affix to local street signs, like this one we stumbled upon yesterday:

Which admittedly would be markedly improved if the culprit knew the difference between "murder" (a verb) and "murderER" (a noun). Fuck and alas.


GETkristiLOVE said...

Well, he couldn't have told her to make a documentary exposing all the crooked liar politicians because then he'd have competition.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when good vandalism is misspelled. I probably just misspelled misspelled, but oh well.

Was Micheal Moore just as icky looking in person?

And yeah... write your congressperson? That's what middle schoolers are supposed to do.

vikkitikkitavi said...

So jealous!

I'll admit that I have a real weakness for MM, and I saw Sicko the weekend it opened. Although there are plenty of Moore-style manipulations of emotion and fact going on, I believe the basic truth of our predicament is well and fairly represented.

Tony Benn was a real high point of the movie for me and for the audience as well. I can't wait to see the outtakes.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Oh, and I also meant to say that I am with Moore on the "write your congressperson" thing. Yes, politicians are frequently corrupt, except that they are also frequently NOT corrupt when they think their constituents are watching them closely on a particular issue. Getting a ton of letters in support of a particular bill is about the only thing that does scare a congressperson into voting for a bill in defiance of a strong lobby.

Dale said...

Sounds like a great festival. We have a big tyme one here but I've never attended, all I can think of is human congestion.

Fuck and alas is a perfect thing to deface signs with!

Grant Miller said...

I'm ashamed to say how much i loved "Sicko."

wonderturtle said...

That is actually really surprising... and then not so surprising. The more MM exploits his own persona, the more it becomes the focus of his films, and though 'write your congressperson' should be advised, it should be the first in a long list of suggestions/exhortations to action.